Enfants terribles send another dire letter

Puh-lease. Five primates, planning to absent themselves from the Lambeth Conference, have written a letter to 20 English bishops who had encouraged these primates to attend. These five primates call themselves “GAFCON” bishops. My advice to them is to come up with a new name. “GAFCON Communion” doesn’t sound so great.

Anyway, in their letter, here are some favorite bits:

We are also concerned that the invitation list reflects a great imbalance. It fails to address fundamental departures from historic faith that have triggered this crisis and yet excludes bishops of our own provinces, of Rwanda, Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda who teach and practice Biblical faith. As constituted, the invitations suggest that institutional structures are superior to the content of the faith itself.

They are concerned because some of their number have not been invited, and this reflects “an imbalance.” OK, so Martyn Minns and his ilk weren’t invited. Frankly, if it were up to me, I’d invite the lot of them. But that’s not what Archbishop Rowan did. In case these primates have forgotten, their favorite lightning rod, Bishop Gene Robinson was also not invited. Robinson was excluded because his consecration represented an action that was contrary to the spirit of Lambeth Resolution 1.10, and the failure to remove him is contrary to the spirit of the Windsor Report. Fair enough. But let it also be said that the Windsor Report called for primates to stay out of other Anglican provinces. So Martyn Minns et al are, simply put, not Windsor-compliant bishops. I wish Rowan had invited everyone, but he chose to not invite the bishops — on both ends of the spectrum — who are centers of controversy.

We are also mindful of the press interest in the Conference, and in the presence in some form or other of Gene Robinson and his male partner, and of 30 gay activists. We would be the continual target of activist campaigners and media intrusion. In these circumstances we could not feel at home.

So we know from earlier press coverage that Archbishop Peter Akinola is apparently afraid of gay cooties. I guess they are worried that the cooties from Gene Robinson and his partner will get into the ventilation system and the Nigerians will all go home gay? I’m not sure that makes sense to me. Even more ridiculous is their claim to shun “media intrusion.” This is coming from the crowd that staged “impromptu” press conferences in the back of the room after Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori’s election presser, and again following the final press briefing in Dar es Salaam. I saw both of these with my own eyes. The latter one was especially comical. At end of the gaggle with Martyn Minns, one of the reporters thanked him for speaking to the press. He feigned surprise and said something like, “Oh, I had no idea we’d have something like a press conference here.” Never mind that for the first time that week, he was dressed in episcopal fashion, with a pectoral cross and bright purple shirt. (See photos here and here.)

All of us have attended Lambeth before. As far as we are aware, only a few of you have been to a Lambeth Conference. In 1998, we had great difficulty in making our case heard in the face of the process of the conference. At that conference we were blessed with the leadership of Archbishop George Carey who has always been a champion of orthodox biblical teaching on sexuality.

So, if you’re not sure you’ll get your way, you plan to stay home. Rowan is less predictable than good old George. And you’ve been there before. Right. So does that mean one should only go to a Lambeth Conference if one has been to a previous one? (Anyone want to follow that to its logical end?) And, how, exactly did you have trouble making your case heard in 1998? My impression was that the hijack of the Lambeth agenda was brutally efficient and utterly successful.

I think this will be my final post on these enfants terribles for a while. We all have better things to focus on, and the church has too much Good News to worry about a few bishops who have decided to pout rather than talk, who have given up any hope of reconciling.

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